The shooting of Men in Black begins on March 14, 1996 between New York and Los Angeles. In the Big Apple, director Barry Sonnenfeld, the former director of photography for the Coen brothers, exploits locations such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. When it came time to imagine the secret entrance to the MIB headquarters, the director set his sights on the ventilation building in the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel. From the start, the filmmaker insists on exploiting this block of granite. Once singled out by New Yorkers, the building that helped ventilate the tunnel connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn is now at the center of Men in Black.
However, it is not inside the structure that the scenes taking place in the headquarters of the mysterious organization responsible for monitoring aliens living on Earth are shot. These sequences are produced entirely from Sony Studios in Los Angeles by the chief designer Bo Welch. He was inspired by the work of Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, the man responsible for the TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. For him, it was perfectly logical that the arrival point on Earth of the aliens resembled an airport. Today, in New York City, the ventilation shaft of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is best known as the Men in Black Headquarters. Pop culture has given the place a fantastic dimension that is subject to many fantasies.
The first episode of a four-part saga, Men in Black exploits the legend of the famous men in black. Characters belonging to the American urban mythology, which witnesses of UFO phenomena would have seen on several occasions. This sci-fi comedy is packed with creatures partly designed by the legendary Rick Baker. He was awarded an Oscar for his work on the film.
The sequence with Edgar the Bug required the use of 30 cockroaches. The scene was supervised by a representative of the American Humane Association. Thus, none of the insects were injured during the shooting.
Hugh.L Carey Tunnel Ventilation Building
Connecting the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn to Battery Park on Manhattan Island, the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is used daily by more than 45,000 vehicles. It is equipped with four ventilation ducts.
Opened to traffic on May 25, 1950 after several delays due to World War II, the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel was the subject of several controversies. One of them concerns its ventilation towers, essential to ensure a good air circulation inside the tunnel. In Manhattan, the inhabitants were not happy about the construction of one of these chimneys. So the plans were modified to make the building look like a granite monument, dressed with three much more aesthetic sculptures.
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By Gilles Rolland
Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.